Saturday, 1 May 2021

Fast moving Aratiatia Dam

On one of the drizzly rainy days we spent in Taupo recently we thought it would be a bit different to visit Aratiatia Dam  to see the gates open where water would flow through to the river below. At the top normally this boat and it's owner take people out for jetboating experiences, I've done that before in Queenstown and it's really not my thing.

The huge gates had opening times of 10am, 12pm or 2pm, we chose the morning one. You can either stand on either side of this bridge and look over or walk down a designated track next to one end which is what I did.

This shot was taken while standing on the bridge facing both the gates.  The name "Aratiatia" means "Stairway of Tia" after the legendary Maori explorer Tia who first arrived at the rapids and was fascinated by the tiered form. 

This memorial stone says "This Kohatu is dedicated to the people of Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa. Near the Aratiatia Rapids was the settlement 'Atahaka' one of the many Maori settlements. Atahaka had cultivations, cherry trees, burial places and a river crossing place nearby".

There were 2 tracks, this one took 10 minutes to walk down to and the other took about 30 minutes as it leads further up for a higher view.

We heard 3 loud sirens, starting at 15 minutes 5 minutes apart and then the gates slowly opened letting water through which falls 20 metres in the space of 1 kilometre. The rapids have been harnessed to produce environmentally sustainable hydro-electric power and the station was first built in 1964.

 So apart from not being allowed to swim there for obvious reasons this place was part of a memorable scene from the movie "The Hobbit - The desolation of Smaug" when the dwarves are escaping from the captivity of the elves by hiding in barrels which were thrown down stream.

Here is a video I found on youtube someone else uploaded - you'll be able to hear the siren going off at the final warning and the water rushing through the river.

Linking up with The Weekend Roundup and  Weekend Reflections.


  1. What a beautiful place to walk! Nice pics.

  2. A wonderful place, if a tad scary, too.
    OK, I wouldn´t want to swim in there...

  3. It is a few years now since I saw that.

  4. No mistaking the sound of the siren. Must be great to watch the water cascading down.

  5. We missed that last trip..but still a great view as you go or the dam.
    Thanks for posting that video

  6. ...the misty scenes are beautiful. Thanks for sharing the history Amy.

  7. Oh wow, what an amazing sight Amy, there's a lot of power in that flow! Thanks for the link to the video, so impressive ✨

  8. Fascinating to get to watch that! Definitely movie-ready! So beautiful.

  9. Nice views. I like hearing the water flowing down in the video. Must be nice to be there at the moment the water is released.

  10. That was amazing to see and thanks for the video too. I enjoyed that.

  11. I've done something similar at dams here. Watching the water and feeling its power reverberate in the air is what I like. I also like the Tainter Gates which control the flow. Reading about them they were designed a long time ago and are still the preferred means of controlling floodgates in dams big and small.


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